Last time in the series, I talked about moving intentionally. I debated the order in which I would write these posts about steps to True Health and decided that getting moving was an important precursor to eating intentionally. There’s something about finding the motivation to move that spills over into other areas of life, including the drive and desire to be more intentional with what we put in our mouths.
I need to share right off the bat here that I do not eat perfectly. I don’t even eat as well as I think other people should (don’t tell my family). I have 4 young kids, a couple of businesses, and part-time jobs as homeschool-teacher, cook, maid… you get the idea. I’m saying this because life happens and it happens fast (or feels slow) and often we are scrambling to get a filling meal on the table, much less a healthy one.
So my encouragement is to take it one step at a time. Know yourself and your personality. If it takes time to implement new habits and patterns, then let it take time. If you’re like me and when you decide to eliminate white sugar you throw it all away the next day, then dive right in! Don’t let anyone prescribe for you how to manage the way you eat. BUT, do decide how you’re going to eat.
I believe food was given to us by God to enjoy as an experience. As a Christian, I can’t help but ponder why Christ often refers to Himself as the Bread of Life. Not only do I think that was intentional, that food is given to us to take pleasure in, I also believe great amounts of wisdom have been passed down to teach us what truly enjoying your food looks like.
Just like everything in life, food preparation takes time. Similar to my philosophy about health, when science tries to create shortcuts outside of God’s design, I believe it takes us closer to a life of sickness rather than a life of nourishment the way things were intended in the first place.
So, while I want to avoid laying out a bunch of “rules” about how to eat, I do have one rule that I like to keep in my mind as I plan, shop for, and prepare food: Eat Real Food. In other words, the closer to nature the food is, the better!
My Favorite Superfoods
If you take into consideration the “rule” to eat real food, that will automatically eliminate many foods that are not healthy for you. But I’ve learned through several years of trying different ways of eating that it is much more enjoyable to focus on the great foods that you can eat rather than getting caught up on the foods that you’ve decided to eliminate. So here are a couple of my favorite real foods to add in and enjoy.
There are so many wonderful benefits to bone broth. My personal favorite is broth made from the scraps of a whole chicken. I am extremely blessed to have a mother-in-law who raises organic meat chickens, so I have enough chicken scraps for broth a couple times a month. On butcher day, I will even take a 5-gallon bucket full of chicken feet and bag them up into 12 different bags. I add a bag of the feet to my broth pot once a month.
I have started trying to make a bone both soup as an appetizer to our evening meals a few times a week. I’ll make a creamy tomato soup or a thick veggie soup that hugs my insides warmly as I calm down and prepare to enjoy a healthy meal.
If you’re not able to make your own broth, it is possible to purchase collagen to add to your drinks and help provide those amazing gut-healing properties.
I highly recommend the information provided by the Weston A. Price Foundation or Dr. Josh Axe if you want to learn more.
Fermented Foods & Drinks
We all know the importance of probiotics, so it makes perfect sense that you’d want to get probiotics from such wonderful sources as sauerkraut and kefir. The benefit of eating your supplements is that you get lots of extra goodness. For example, did you know that fermented vegetables are also loaded with digestive enzymes and Vitamin C?
As with most things in life, I think variety is the spice of life. I’ve been very slowly getting in to making my own ferments, but I’d love to eventually have fermented vegetables, dairy, fruits, condiments, and drinks as a daily part of our diet. My ultimate goal is to have a ferment with each meal plus drinks for in between meals.
So far, we have sauerkraut or pickles with evening meals and grape juice kefir with breakfast. Occasionally, I will buy goat milk yogurt for a treat, which the kids love for snacks.
If making your own ferments is hard for you, like it is for me, I recently discovered the Traditional Cooking School that offers a class for just this topic! (Guess what I’m asking for for Christmas!)
Some Options to Consider
There are lots of different ways to eat and just as many people telling you that THEIR way is the RIGHT way. Apart from eating real food as much as possible, I don’t proclaim one right diet. I’ve tried several and my family has thrived on most of them. But there is some comfort in knowing in your own mind, “I won’t eat this but I will eat this”.
I’m not a fan of major restrictions, but there are certain foods I’m not willing to compromise on and let myself or my children eat. However, we have so much great food available that we don’t even miss the ones we can’t have! Here are some of my favorite diet resources.
If you are interested in learning how traditional peoples ate in the past and how that affected their health, I recommend an amazing book by Sally Fallon Morrell called Nourishing Diets.
My absolute favorite book about how to eat is Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe. He really lays out the facts about certain foods and allows you the freedom to choose if you will eat them or not without laying on the guilt either way. He has an amazing resource at the end of the book that helps you determine your weak points and what to eat to help repair your personal weaknesses.
Another well-known and excellent resources is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. This is like a cookbook with educational material sandwiched between the recipes. This book is a little more hard-core when it comes to eating traditional, real food, so I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one unless you downright love being in the kitchen. I started here and it was a little overwhelming for me.
If you think you have some sensitivities but aren’t sure how to discover them, The Adrenal-Thyroid Revolution by Dr. Aviva Romm could be helpful. We actually do this elimination diet every February during Lent as a type of spring cleanse. It takes a little studying and organization, but it has greatly benefited my family to remember we don’t need heavy grains and sugars to survive.
The first time we tried Dr. Aviva’s elimination diet, I was in the first trimester of pregnancy with my third child. It gave me an energy boost that lasted the rest of my pregnancy!
After my last (fourth) birth, I was really having a hard time eating fats. Even the healthy ones made my stomach churn! After a little research, I started looking into Trim Healthy Mama and decided to give it a try. It turns out THM just added the component of carb-cycling to how we already ate. In other words, they go into great detail about how to prepare high fat-low carb meals and alternating them with low fat-high carb meals.
If you already eat a real foods diet, this concept just takes a little rearranging of your foods. Likewise, if real foods are new to you and you want to shed some pounds and possibly some heartburn, this might be a great resource for you.
Between weaning baby 3 and getting pregnant with baby 4, I felt I needed to do a really good cleanse using diet. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about that until I found Dr. Mercola’s KetoFast book.
If you know Dr. Mercola’s work, you know there are lots of details and research behind all of his content. This particular book also has some really good step-by-step help in, first, establishing a proper Keto-style diet and, second, moving into a cyclical fasting or time-restricted eating pattern. This was just what I needed at the time to give my body a boost and regain some energy.
I used to be completely against taking supplements. A healthy diet should be enough, right? Well, I think I’ve been wrong about that.
I heard an interview with someone who had lived off of the land for a whole year. She had raw milk, fresh eggs, microgreens growing through the winter, and all the food she had fermented and preserved the year before. But she was experiencing some intense cravings that went away only after taking kelp that a friend had harvested for her.
The point is, if we want to reach optimum health, I think great food is the least we can do, and supplements help us fill in the gaps.
However, I do still believe in whole-food or non-capsulated supplements as much as possible. For example, I get magnesium through a powdered mix but also through an herbal combination that also includes calcium. I get Vitamins A, D, and K through cod liver oil. I take bitter herbs to help with digestion at meals. And adaptogens are my go-to for an extra boost all winter long.
If you want to learn more about how to fit supplements into your lifestyle, I highly recommend the books previously mentioned by Dr. Axe (Eat Dirt) or Dr. Romm (Adrenal-Thyroid Revolution).
I also have a couple of favorite companies that share great information on taking herbs instead of pills for health. Mountain Meadow Herbs has excellent info and some books you can read. I love their elder berry combos, their “multi-vitamin” combos, and that I can get Olive leaf (which we use for every ailment, it seems) as a single extract. Mountain Rose Herbs has a great collection of books, blog posts, and a podcast!
Earthley is also a great company that offers a lot of education. My favorites from them are some bitter herb combos, their Ease the Ache combo (meant for menstrual cramps but I use it for headaches too), and their wonderful selection of creams and lotions. Earthley does use a lot of mint in their combos, though, so I don’t use as many of their products as I’d like to. Remember that mint is an herb that can easily cancel out any effects of a homeopathic remedy you may be taking.
I hope this information has been helpful and that you enjoy choosing how to nourish yourself with food!
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Look for these other posts in this series:
- Step 1: Feel Better NOW
- Step 2: Choose your Mindset
- Step 3: Choose How to Move
- Step 4: Choose How to Eat (you are here)
- Step 5: Maintain Balance